White Skin, White Mask: Passing, Posing, and Performing in The Great Gatsby by Meredith Goldsmith introduces a scandal based on series of ethnic and racial perspectives. Racial analogies in the article touch on aspects of marriage, fashion, class and way of life regarding African-Americans, Whites, and Jewish immigrants. The book acknowledges Goldsmith`s argument as Scandal of Jay Gatsby in comparison to arguments by Nick Carraway, Scott Fitzgerald, Abraham Cahan, and Carl Van, (Goldsmith; 443). Carraway believes the success journey of Jay Gatsby could have been easy from Louisiana or the Lower East Side of New York other the formation from the shore of Long Island. It is because Carraway believes it would be a success because they had no family, history, or origins. Racial miscegenation and ethnic immigrant assimilation provide leads to identity in a comprehensible manner other than love, ambition, and commerce as the primary considerations to identity, according to Tom and Nick. Identification has become a matter of imitation based on racial and national identities to define a person. Gatsby scandalous success is reliant on ambiguous ethnic, white, working-class origins on imitation of African-American and ethnic modes of self-definition, (Goldsmith; 443).
Social mobility is an integral factor in self-definition. Social mobility enables the Americanization process to be a simple case. Americanization requires the participants readiness to adapt to the manners, leisure of the American class and appearances. A prime example in the article is a Cahan`s novel touching on a Jewish immigrant in a garment industry was able to establish social mobility to the occasion of being an influential person in the industry concerning position. Gatsby considers, personality as an unbroken series of successful gestures in the sense that behavior change is inevitable for a person is to be accepted, (Goldsmith; 445). Johnson`s novel introduces a hero character; as light-skinned son of a biracial union, successfully achieves Americanization by acknowledging social mobility and the economy as white`s offers, (Goldsmith; 445). Gatsby notices Americanization heroes acquired their new identity through unjust means. Gatsby justifies the stand based on the progress of heroes since they depend on romance as social mobility stepping stone. The heroes, in the end, go against masculine heterosexual norms. The burning issue is the purpose and aim of Americanization on economic value does not achieve its goals since the heroes loose track by concentrating on romance to the extent of violating heterosexual masculinity.
Fashion plays an imitative critical role in Americanization process. Individuals interested in Americanization go to the extent of tailoring their clothing so as to depict them as whites. It is evidential in Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, a gift of the tailor-made clothing acts as an affirmation of the ex-coloured man as white. Americanization process is daring and demanding in the sense that Gatsby strives to groom in a manner that will suggest they are white. It is a tedious exercise in the sense that Gatsby orders his clothing from England. However, the importation done by Gatsby depicts him as alienated from the Anglo-American leisure class. Cahan`s David Levinsky kept watching as Gatsby went on with Americanization. However, Levinsky methodology of Americanization was different in the sense that he concentrated on imitating American merchants. Gatsby thoughts about fashion to reflect his whiteness lacked originality. Furthermore, fashion change extends to personal looks in the sense that Cahan appreciated the Americanization to the point of losing his sidelocks, while the ex-coloured man promises to transform himself further by changing his name and raising a moustache. It is real transformation characterized by sheer commitment and dedication to being an American. Fitzgerald draws a contrast between aspects of personality as manipulations of clothes, hair and possessions. He compares Gatsby hairstyle as underscore of class and gender hence linking it to resembling Daisy`s.
Gatsbys parties trend of glamorizing mixing, mass entertainment and imitation in accordance to Buchanan`s East Egg are the qualities of taboo. Fitzgerald takes on the party scenes is that the performance reflects the 1920s popular culture since it mutes the presence of African-American and ethnic performances. The most encouraging thing in the party is jazz history. Jazz as a music genre popularization dates back to 1920s with blacks and Jews as engineers. Gerald point of view; Jazz History refers to Paul Whiteman`s symphonic jazz concert at Aeolian Hall, a period that the famous genre criticism realized acceptance, (Goldsmith; 455). Fitzgerald introduces a discussion on color aspects. Innovations in the twentieth century contributed to the color issue to fit into a white race. The lighting and dye process increased the cases of new color consumption significantly. Whiteness importance attributes to racial purity, female virginity, and class superiority challenging the blacks to rush in color use, (Goldsmith; 458). In the end, The Great Gatsby realizes the moving of the white Anglo-American from the shores of Long Island.
Goldsmith, Meredith. White Skin, White Mask: Passing, Posing, and Performing in The Great Gatsby. Modern Fiction Studies. (2003).
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